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2008 OECD Economic Surveys: Spain 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Spain 2008

This 2008 edition of OECD's periodic survey of Spain's economy examines challenges being faced including that of improving the education system, improving the matching of workers to jobs, and fostering competition in product markets to boost productivity.

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Raising education outcomes

Impressive progress has been made in raising participation in early childhood education as well as tertiary educational attainment over the past 30 years. However, the inflow of poorly educated youth into the labour market is unusually heavy for a high-income country, largely on account of elevated drop-out rates in lower secondary education which, in turn, reflect one of the highest grade repetition rates in the OECD. The supply of workers with intermediate vocational skills is surprisingly low, despite the high returns, in terms of labour market outcomes that these skills offer, even if they have recently deteriorated. There is room to raise learning outcomes up to the end of compulsory school, as measured by PISA, although, owing to a compressed distribution of such outcomes, the share of poorly performing pupils is not unusually large. While significant reforms have been undertaken to address these problems, more measures are needed to reduce grade repetition and raise education outcomes, by improving accountability of schools and school staff, as well as by raising school autonomy further than has already occurred. Vocational training needs to become more attractive. In tertiary education, few Spanish universities have attained a high level of international standing, and scope remains to improve the contribution tertiary attainment can make to gains in economic welfare, notably by reforming funding arrangements.

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